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Date: April 9, 2013 To: ENGL 1101 Staff From: Michael Babcock Subject: Students Right to Their Own


The essence of the SRTOL statement can be summarized as the right for students to incorporate their own dialect into their learning experience. No dialect or standard should be raised above others in a way that degrades the others as inferior, period. It was written in 1974 but still applies today, perhaps even in a greater way.

The Students Right to Their Own Language (SRTOL) statement and some of the background behind it are summarized in this memo. For the full version of the SRTOL statement from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) see the references section.

The SRTOL statement was published in the College Composition and Communication journal in September 1974 and filled that entire issue. A few years prior to that, the general trend of nonstandard dialects being treated as inferior concerned the CCCC and functioned as the catalyst for the SRTOL statement. This question in their introduction was used as a guide to their research and thinking: Should the schools try to uphold language variety, or to modify it, or to eradicate it? (CCC 1) After researching the situation, the SRTOL position statement was eventually developed by the committee and presented in the CCC journal.

To avoid diluting or misrepresenting the intent of the CCCC the SRTOL statement is included here in full:
We affirm the students' right to their own patterns and varieties of language -- the dialects of their nurture or whatever dialects in which they find their own identity and style. Language scholars long ago denied that the myth of a standard American dialect has any validity. The claim that any one dialect is unacceptable amounts to an attempt of one social group to exert its dominance over another. Such a claim leads to false advice for speakers and writers, and immoral advice for humans. A nation proud of its diverse heritage and its cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects. We affirm strongly that teachers must have the experiences and training that will enable them to respect diversity and uphold the right of students to their own language. (CCC 2-3)

After beginning with this clear concise position statement that was meant to stand on its own, a long detailed section supporting their position and giving examples of applications for English teachers was developed by the committee as well. Although the entire article is too long to

summarize here, Commanding statement for English teachers and explanations of them like all English teachers should, as a minimum, know the principles of modern linguistics, and something about the history and nature of the English language in its social and cultural context and English teachers should be concerned with the employability as well as the linguistic performance of their students were the bulk of the main section (CCC 15-18).

The essence of the SRTOL can be summarized in the following way. A student has the right to incorporate their own dialect into their speech and writing. No dialect or standard should be raised above others in a way that degrades the others as inferior. Teachers and people who influence language development should respect the heritage and culture behind dialects and aid students in creating their own unique and powerful voice. In addition, students should advocate and fight for their right to their own language as well. The message contained in the SRTOL statement continues to be applicable to our society even 40 years later.

Committee on CCCC Language Statement. "Students' Right to Their Own Language." College Composition and Communication Vol. 25, No. 3, (1974) CCCC. NCTE. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <> <>